A Chronicle of The Carbon War

The below is a chronological log of events in global energy, climate change and related issues. Key events from this chronicle are distilled in the serialised ebook, The Winning of the Carbon War.

Act de Triumph

Paris - Triumph

On Saturday December 12th, 2015, I witnessed something that nothing else in human history comes close to, in terms of scale and stakes. Most of the nations on Earth, 195 of them, adopted the world’s first universal agreement to fight an existential threat to civilisation and indeed life, as we know it, on the planet.
Going into the Paris Climate Summit, there were three possible outcome scenarios.  Read more ›


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The Paris Climate Summit begins. The world watches. And my Chronology of the Carbon War, charting the years running up to this unique event in human history, closes. But for one more entry.

Paris - atmosphere over

With this image of the atmosphere over Paris at night, this is the penultimate entry in my Chronology of the Carbon War. The last one will be made after the summit ends, with its outcome hopefully clear. The drama that will no doubt unfold in the next two weeks I will describe in the last few chapters of The Winning of the Carbon War, to be published as a free-download e-book in the first week of January.


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Unilever pledges 100% renewables, most UK cities pledge zero carbon, non-OECD clean-energy investment exceeds OECD for first time, India opposes fossil fuel phase-out by 2100: Week 47, 2015

African kids touching solar panel

Unilever sets 2030 ‘carbon positive’ goal in shift to 100% renewables. They will generate more than they need for global operations and export to the grid.
Prince Charles plan to expose climate polluters in Commonwealth to big-money legal action. This if they fail to accurately disclose their impact on climate change.
“Statoil doesn’t debate climate science. We act on it. The way the world meets its need for energy today will not limit the increase in global temperatures to 2C.” A top exec speaks out.
26.11.15.
Suzanne Goldemburg reviews 20 years of COPs. “The tears, the bloodshed and the unspeakable catering.” Different this time?
25.11.15.
Carbon limits to put $2 trillion of coal, oil, gas projects at risk, Carbon Tracker reports. Our synthesis report is out, and oil companies are reacting negatively.
Abengoa starts insolvency proceedings. The Spanish renewable energy company owes more than €20 bn.
24.11.15.
India opposes deal to phase out fossil fuels by 2100 in Paris. An official says: “The entire prosperity of the world has been built on cheap energy.”
KPMG forecasts Indian solar prices up to 10% lower than coal power prices. By 2025, renewable energy could make up 20% of India’s primary power mix, broadly in-line with 450ppm.
Former heads of BP and Shell accuse energy groups of not doing enough on climate. John Browne and Mark Moody-Stuart profess that there is a “significant disconnect”.
23.11.15.
Prince Charles blames the Syria conflict, in part, on climate change. This in an interview with Sky News. Much of the UK media immediately spin his caveated comment into an absolute.
Global debt defaults near milestone, with US shale drillers leading the pack. 99 companies have defaulted globally since the beginning of the year, 66% American, mostly in oil and gas.
Most of Britain’s major cities pledge to run on green energy by 2050. The leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils made pledges to eradicate carbon emissions in their areas.
“Leapfrogging to Solar: Emerging Markets Outspend Rich Countries for the First Time.” Bloomberg: “China alone is adding more renewables than the US, UK and France combined.”


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Climate health warnings on fuel pumps, Alberta caps tar sands, Statoil pulls out of Arctic, OECD kills coal export subsidies, Enel bets hard on renewables, UK dashes for gas: Week 45, 2015

Screenshot 2015-11-26 08.01.53

Alberta announces ground breaking climate agreement. Including a coal phase out by 2030, a renewable portfolio standard of 30%, a cap on emissions from tar sands, and a carbon tax.
21.11.15.
Fuel pumps to get cigarette packet-style climate change warnings in North Vancouver. The first city in the world to label climate risks at the pump will be Canadian.
19.11.15.
French government bans climate protest marches in Paris. Environmental activists accept decision with regret and will find new imaginative ways to make voices heard.
18.11.15.
Rudd formalises UK dash-for-gas policy at-all-costs in “energy reset” speech. Coal to be phased out by 2025, which would have happened anyway. Subsidies will be needed for gas.
“Rudd offers little solar solace in jibe-laden strategy reveal.” She “barely referenced solar and certainly offered nothing in the way of assurances for a beleaguered industry.”
Export subsidies for coal power stations reined in by OECD. Environmental groups say the agreement could put a stop to as many as 850 planned coal plants.
“Enel bets hard on renewable energy”: FT. The Italian utility buys out minority shareholders in its publicly listed green power unit.
“After Leading Oil Industry on Exploration, Eni Seeks to Cash In.” Bloomberg describes how the fast computers make the most successful oil explorer, and how Eni is sells assets as it goes.
17.11.15.
Statoil follows Shell in pulling out of Alaska. It will exit 16 leases it operates and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips.
16.11.15.
“Gates Foundation would be $1.9bn better off if it had divested from fossil fuels.” Corporate Knights research on 14 funds, worth a combined $1tn, calculates they lost out on $23 bn. “
“Bakken Pumps Less Oil for First Time in Decade”: Bloomberg. “The shale boom in North Dakota has softened to a whisper.” September production falls 1.1% compared to a year ago.
“Future of US shale oil lies in Permian basin”: FT. Production is falling less steeply there than in the Baaken and Eagleford shale regions.
“Minigrids Seen as Fix for 620 Million Africans Without Power.” “Enel of Italy joins developers building miniature power grids. Off-grid renewables are the ‘future of Africa,’ PwC says.”


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Saudi Arabia becomes last G20 government to submit climate pledge, Pope’s message is shifting US opinion on climate, terrorists strike in Paris: Week 45, 2015

Screenshot 2015-11-17 08.14.36

14.11.15.
DECC, a small Whitehall department, loses 1 in 8 jobs. Amber Rudd links action to subsidies, saying “subsidy should be temporary, not part of a permanent business model.”
13.11.15.
Terrorists assault Paris in multiple gun and bomb attacks. Speculation soon quoshed that the tragedy means deferral of the climate summit.
EDF employee shareholders say Hinkley project puts company survival at risk. “EAS asks the management ….to stop this risky project, whose financial risks are too big” etc.
“Exxon Mobil cover-up case shows why energy investors need a new strategy.” “Pricing energy assets is about to change as the government treats Big Oil as it did Big Tobacco.”
12.11.15.
Paris climate deal must be legally binding, EU tells John Kerry. This after the secretary of state said it would ‘definitively’ not be a treaty.
FT: “There is a real chance a deal will be struck, a medium chance it will be very strong – and a small chance it will produce the deep cuts in emissions required to avoid risky global warming.”
“UK becomes only G7 country to increase fossil fuel subsidies.” Tory government is giving billions in ever increasing handouts to oil and gas majors, report reveals.
Huge glacier breakup underway in Greenland. The Zachariae Isstrom glacier holds enough water to raise global sea levels by half a metre, scientists say.
11.11.15.
Eon reports record quarterly loss of €7.25bn as it writes down power assets. It is preparing its balance sheet for the spin off, which is in its final stages, CEO says.
Rudd says she still has the confidence of the renewables sector after making her cuts. No renewables leaders are cited in the article offering such.
“Energy Hasn’t Been This Hot Since They Invented Fire”: Bloomberg. “And the revolution is just beginning.”
10.11.15.
Pope’s call for action on climate change has shifted US views. A survey shows doubling of Catholics “very worried” about climate change. 35% say they were influenced.
“Oil glut to swamp demand until 2020”. So the FT headline reads. The 2015 IEA WEO shows big energy companies are overestimating demand, and that the energy transition has started.
New Australian government declares itself “open for business “ on renewables. Canberra asks Saudis to invest in wind and solar.
Saudi Arabia becomes last G20 country to submit Paris pledge. “Mitigation co-benefits” of up to 130m tons of CO2 equivalent a year by 2030, in an opaque submission with many caveats.
Saudi Paris pledge involves an “ambitious” solar programme. Renewables seen as value-add to an economy they will reshape to fit the Paris agenda, the FT reports.
Rudd ‘completely rejects’ notion UK climate change leadership damaged. The leaked letter is “accurate”, she tells an Energy & Climate Change select committee hearing.
Ten UK universities divest from fossil fuels. This doubles the number of unviersities divested. Their endowments are worth £115m.
9.11.15.
Climate change set to pass the milestone of 1C of warming. By the end of 2015, representing “uncharted territory” according to scientists at the UK’s Met Office.
“Leaked letter: Rudd admits 25% green energy undershoot, misled Parliament.” She promised UK was on course for target. Now she wants to create renewable “credits” abroad to meet it.
UK solar industry to add just 110 MW per year for next 5 years, DECC estimates mean. So Solar Intelligence calculates, if the 2020/21 forecast of 8.2 GW installed is to be believed.
“Airpocalypse now: China pollution reaching record levels.” “In some areas level of harmful particles in the air were 56 times the levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation.”

 


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Obama rejects tar sands pipeline, Exxon under investigating for lying about climate risk, Exxon did lie says presidential hopeful, Peabody forced to disclose climate risk to investors: Week 44, 2015

Obama and Gore

NY Attorney General forces Peabody Energy to disclose more on climate risk. Two year investigation finds that Peabody has not been forthright with investors.
7.11.15.
“Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline and hails US as leader on climate change.” Obama says:Frankly, approving that project would have undercut that global leadership.”
6.11.15.
“Walking tall: Expect tears as UN climate chief eyes Paris prize.” Climate Home profiles Christiana Figueres finally she has a global deal in her sights.
UNEP: National climate plans deliver half carbon cuts needed for 2C. “Government pledges will cut 11 Gt of greenhouse gases by 2030, report finds, leaving an emissions gap of 12 Gt.”
“Solar farm in Balcombe ‘fracking village’ shelved due to Tory policies.” Osborne’s tax changes deter the community from owning their own solar farm.
ExxonMobil lied on climate, says Democratic Presidential hopeful. They knew the truth and “lied to protect their business model at the expense of the planet” says Bernie Sanders.
“More Oil Companies Could Join Exxon Mobil as Focus of Climate Investigations.” Legal experts contend that BP, Shell, Texaco (now Chevron) are vulnerable on their historic records.
“Warning: Oil company defaults are coming.” “There are going to be a lot of defaults (in shale),” R. Matthew Freund, chief investment officer of USAA Investments, tells CNNMoney.
Total to expand solar power assets, says CEO. $3bn invested to date equals 3% of assets. Patrick Pouyanne says assets could total 10-15% by 2030.
“Greenpeace says India has cancelled its legal registration.” Part of a wider crackdown on foreign funded charities after a report that they may be cutting GDP by opposing pollution.
5.11.15.
“Exxon Mobil Under Investigation in New York Over Climate Statements.” NY attorney general begins “sweeping investigation”: did ExxonMobil lie to public & investors on climate risk?
“The Next CEO of Exxon Will Inherit a Diminished Giant.” Bloomberg analyses the lack of growth prospects, and shrinkage of the cash pile ($28.7bn to $4.3bn) under CEO Tillerson.
UK power crunch fears heighten. More than 10% of Britain’s 45 MW electricity need during the power crunch yesterday came from plants that will no longer be available next year.
4.11.15.
“UK’s high-wire act on power supplies laid bare”: FT. Unexpected outage sends wholesale electricity prices soaring, & prompts grid to call for first time ever for industry to reduce power.
“Fracking to be banned in protected wildlife areas in latest policy reversal’: Telegraph. Ministers bow to pressure from MPs and NGOs on SSSIs.
Volkswagen says 800,000 cars may have false CO2 levels, including petrol cars now. VW, Skoda, Audi and Seat cars affected. £1.4bn added to £4.7bn set aside for original 11m diesels.
SunEdison wins 500MW of India PV with record 7 c kWh bid. The new capacity to be built within a large solar park in Andhra Pradesh state.
3.11.15.
“China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks.” Up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data.
UK plans to turn to diesel to meet power supply crunch. Companies have registered to build 1.5 GW, with hundreds of millions of subsidies over the next 15 years. Even solar developers.
Statoil OKs $236m for floating offshore wind farm. The 30MW Buchan Deep power project off northeast Scotland uses technology developed by the oil and gas industry.
Statkraft joins BLP in Indian solar joint venture. Their target is commercial and industrial roofs, part of a $8.1bn in wind, solar + around the world over the next four years.
Solar companies with-hold up to $26bn from the yieldcos they created. The yieldcos born amid an investor craze two years ago have fallen 40% in value since June.
2.11.15.
China and France say Paris climate pact should have five-year reviews. Joint statement says they are needed to “reinforce mutual confidence and promote efficient implementation”.
HMG’s climate advisors tell them wind & solar cheaper than gas by 2020, HMG signs off Hinkley Point: Week 42, 2015 jeremyleggett.net


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Pre-ordering The Winning of The Carbon War means helping SolarAid

Dear website visitors
I am in the Bay Area talking to clean-energy companies, investors, regulators, foundations and NGOs. While I have been out here, the pace of the unfolding climate-and-energy drama has been at its fastest yet:
*   “Fossil fuel companies risk plague of ‘asbestos’ lawsuits as tide turns on climate change.”
*   “Paris climate deal to ignite a $90 trillion energy revolution”.
*   “The old fossil order is on borrowed time as China and even India join the drive for dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions.”
*   “It (the Paris climate deal) is unstoppable. No amount of lobbying is going to change the direction.”
These are just a few of the seismic headlines and quotes this month. The “unstoppable” one is from the UN!
I have really enjoyed writing about the experiences I am having in California in global context this weekend – and the visit isn’t over yet. I hope you will enjoy it too. The free download of the latest edition is here.
You can also pre-order the finished book now, and have it delivered in January. My colleagues at SolarAid have prepared a Christmas offer, so that you can buy a copy or copies (with all profits going to SolarAid) for which you will receive an e-card to present to your friends and family at Christmas explaining what you have bought them and that their book will be delivered early in the new year (if it is a present).
Best, Jeremy


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“Paris climate deal to ignite a $90 trillion energy revolution”, “The world is ready for change,” “Fossil fuel companies risk plague of ‘asbestos’ lawsuits as tide turns on climate change.” : Week 43, 2015

140514 Sustainable_Biz_Awards_Communicating sustainability_innovation_Carbon_Tracker

UK spends £2.2bn supporting coal in developing countries, and £1 bn on clear energy. So says a report by ODI and CAFOD.
30.10.15.
Paris climate summit: “The world is ready for change.” So says Christiana Figueres. “We should remember that international negotiations don’t cause change, they mark it.”
Profits dive at ExxonMobil and Chevron. The latter will cut its workforce by 6-7,000, up to 11% of the 64,700 global total.
Cambridge chemists make super-battery breakthrough. Electrochemistry in lithium-air batteries could allow five times energy storage of today’s best batteries. Graphene involved.
29.10.15.
Buddhists call for strong Paris climate deal. The first time that so many leaders of the billion Buddhists have spoken out on a global issue. They argue for a 1.5C limit to global warming.
UK government yet to install any rooftop solar at all. 18 months on from “Solar Strategy”, this is the stark truth, Solar Power Portal has found.
‘Extremely damaging’ UK community energy tax relief u-turn to have ‘devastating effect’. HMG continues its assault on sector with amendments to the latest finance bill.
“Oil Producers Curb Megaproject Ambitions to Focus on U.S. Shale.” Exxon and Chevron are looking to smaller, supposedly safer, shale operations to generate cash, Bloomberg reports.
28.10.15.
“Paris climate deal to ignite a $90 trillion energy revolution”: Telegraph. “The old fossil order is on borrowed time as China and even India join the drive for dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions.”
At least 80 world leaders will attend Paris summit. Including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, David Cameron and Narendra Modi.
“Oil majors rush cuts to hit $60 breakeven”: FT. “Shell’s decision to axe a Canadian project shows extent of the downturn.”
27.10.15.
“Fossil fuel companies risk plague of ‘asbestos’ lawsuits as tide turns on climate change.” UN says “It (Paris) is unstoppable. No amount of lobbying is going to change the direction.”
Shell halts tar sands project. It quits the Carmon Creek facility in Alberta, writing off $2 bn. That makes 18 project cancellations in the tar sands this year.
“Day Of Reckoning For U.S. Shale Will Have To Wait.” Only $450m in credit lines has been cut by banks in October, just 2%, Jefferies reports. As predicted by Art Berman.
Survey shows 70% of UK solar businesses under threat from FiT cuts. The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers survey shows destructive impact of feed-in tariff cuts.
26.10.15.
Middle East may suffer heat beyond human tolerance this century. So a new study suggests. And on a regular basis.
25.10.15.
“Cash crunch clouds future for oil firms” WSJ. Big oil struggles to generate enough cash to cover spending and dividends, despite efforts to cuts billions of dollars from their budgets.
Asset managers suffer as oil funds withdraw cash. Sovereign wealth funds are withdrawing billions from funds to support their own economies, and seeking cheaper investment approach.
“Rarely has so much damage been done in such short a time.” So former Energy & Climate SoS Ed Davey tells Recharge. “The problem is Osborne and the motley crew backing him.”


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Draft climate treaty complete, HMG’s climate advisors tell them wind and solar will be cheaper than gas by 2020, HMG signs off world’s most expensive power plant as renewables slashed: Week 42, 2015

Hinkley

“Cash crunch clouds future for oil firms” WSJ. Big oil struggles to generate enough cash to cover spending and dividends, despite efforts to cuts billions of dollars from their budgets.
Asset managers suffer as oil funds withdraw cash. Sovereign wealth funds are withdrawing billions from funds to support their own economies, and seeking cheaper investment approach.
“Rarely has so much damage been done in such short a time.” So former Energy & Climate SoS Ed Davey tells Recharge. “The problem is Osborne and the motley crew backing him.”
24.10.15.
A prolonged cold snap could see UK electricity prices double this winter. Industries would then be forced to ration their usage, former SSE boss Ian Marchant warns.
23.10.15.
Draft climate treaty finished in Bonn and forwarded to Paris. “We now have a Party-owned text that is balanced and complete”, says Christiana Figueres.
The strongest hurricane ever recorded is heading for Mexico. Patricia is expected to hit the coast at Category 5, with 200 mph winds.
“$6.5 Billion in Energy Writedowns and We’re Just Getting Started.” Bloomberg marvels at the early total, with the OGI’s earnings season barely started.
“Abysmal” results expected by analysts in the tar sands. “The outlook is grim,” concedes boss of Canada’s largest drilling contractor.
IEA report on benefits of coal is ‘deeply misleading’ and a ‘disinformation tool’. So concludes the IEEFA, analysing a leaked copy. IEA says the report is by advisors, not IEA itself.
UK is “going against the world”, say Solarcentury boss. Cuts have cost £16 m worth of business, says Frans van den Heuvel.
Spain approves a sun tax that discriminates against solar PV. Autogenerators will have to pay the state for the solar electricity they generate.
22.10.15.
As many as 25 US states set to challenge Obama’s emissions power plan. Their challenge to the plan, which is to be published tomorrow, will likely end up in the Supreme Court.
Carbon Tracker takes issue with big energy demand scenarios. A new report casts doubt on 9 basic “business as usual” assumptions in the case fossil fuel use will continue to expand.
UK government finally admits it is subsidising nuclear power. After it has had 60 years to stand on its own feet. Meanwhile saying they can’t support solar because it needs subsidy.
Low-carbon electricity from wind and solar will be cheaper than gas by 2020 in UK. And effectively subsidy-free, says the Committee on Climate Change.
Broker tells investors to sell EDF shares because of Hinkley Point costs. Investec Securities has ‘long-term concerns’ about financial strain the £18bn will put the French energy group under.
Off Grid Electric raises $25 m for solar roof leasing in Africa. Xavier Helgesen, CEO, speaks of “global implications and demonstrates that universal energy access is achievable.”
Women don’t support fracking because they don’t understand it. So says a woman who has just been appointed chair of UK Onshore Oil and Gas.
21.10.15.
Hinkley gets go-ahead during Xi Jinping UK visit. Construction could start “within weeks” says EDF. Cost is now £18bn, they say. And it isn’t coming online until 2025.
20.10.15.
Energy giants axe UK renewables projects. RWE cites 15 “illogical” policy reversals that have made renewables “uninvestable”. Investors are being put off whole energy market.
Fracking can cause nearby abandoned wells to leak methane. So a study in New York concludes. The authors suggest their results may have national significance.
19.10.15.
Fractious day at final session of climate talks in Bonn. The slimmed down text meets opposition from developing countries.


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To slash and burn renewable investment for the sake of costly support for new nuclear plants is unwise

Letter to The Times:
Sir, George Osborne assumes that energy demand will increase (“Nuclear deal with China is threat to UK security”, Oct 16) but he should know that, since 2005, energy use in the UK has fallen 18 per cent. He claims a new nuclear station at Hinkley is good value — but how can it contribute to affordability for consumers if it adds £17 billion to the deficit and imposes £2 billion a year on household bills to support Chinese and French state industries?
Read more ›


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New despotism includes environmental sabotage, reckless capitalism, isolationist nationalism, incitement to racial and religious hatred, retreat from aid, war mongering, and the use of tech for social harm.

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